Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. is a Gynecologist, Director of the New York Menopause Center, Clinical Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Attending Obstetrician and Gynecologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. She is a board certified fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dr. Allen is also a member of the Faculty Advisory Board and the Women’s Health Director of The Weill Cornell Community Clinic (WCCC). Dr. Allen was the recipient of the 2014 American Medical Women’s Association Presidential Award.

I wore a white lightweight wool mohair spring coat for a time-defying 10 years. The shelf life of almost any fashion item that is white in New York City is unbelievably short, so I was very pleased that my special care of this precious item prolonged its life. Then The Husband took it from me last year, declaring that he would not be seen with me in a “coat that had bald spots all over it, like a dog with mange.” Well! To assuage my depression, he took me in September to my retail therapy store to replace the coat with another lightweight version. I thought of it, however, as my new “fall coat.” It was a terrific Akris three-quarter-length, sleek wool gabardine coat in a glorious shade of poppy. I loved it, but it had limitations—the three-quarter length precluded its use to slim pants and pencil skirts, and the color meant that anything I wore with it had to look good with this very particular shade of red/orange.

Photo: Cheryl Fleming

I planned, nonetheless, to buy a replacement coat in the spring. Little did I know that Spring Coats as I knew them no longer seemed to exist. When I was a girl, Mommie made all my clothes, including an Easter coat every year. I would help her design the coat and choose the fabric. I still dream of my favorite coat, made for me when I was 12—a swing coat of lightweight white wool with a jewel neckline. No adornment. One button at the neckline. Unlined, but with bound seams—so feminine and unusual. All spring coats have been measured against the memory of this perfect coat.

I called Stacey at Quintessence, who is also the editor of our Fashion Friday pieces, for three weeks, asking that we do a piece on spring coats, thinking that this would cut down on my shopping time. Finally she gave me the bad news: There is a variety of offerings for spring, but the coats I had in mind were a rarity. There are some that “would do,” but none to match the coat that Mommie made.

I discovered that what I think of as spring coats should be purchased in the fall, so one would need to buy a white or bright coat at that time of year, well before the spring season. Still, here are a few coats I liked that might take us through the chilly days of early spring, which officially starts next week. While these are designer coats at designer price points, they represent a few styles that differ from the ubiquitous, standard trench coat and raincoat.

Chado Ralph Rucci ILLUSION-TRIM COAT

Lela Rose REVERSIBLE COAT (orange twill to burlap)

Dolce & Gabbana BRACELET-SLEEVE TWEED COAT 

Burberry PRORSUM STRIPED RAFFIA Woven Trench Coat The Row “Halifax”  HALIFAX BELTED LINEN AND COTTEN-BLEND TRENCH COAT Milly “Bellina” TOP STITCH COAT. Next week: a Fashion Friday Fantasy Shopping Trip.

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  • Gail April 30, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Two years later since this original post but I wanted to comment on how hard it is to find a lovely Spring coat without it being made from the water resistant fabric and looking like a trench coat. I remember going shopping with my mom too and we would always get new Easter outfits. I remember her buying myself and 2 sisters new spring dress coats and the lace hat and gloves to go along with it for Easter Sunday. I guess I will have to get someone to make me one. Love the red/poppy coat on you Patricia. I’ve been on the internet for days and nothing like lightweight wool like this shows up when googled. It is all trenchy. I keep trying and hoping. Great article too!

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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. February 5, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    I have learned to buy the “spring” coat in the fall! I found a wonderful winter white coat this fall with almost fitted waist by Anthropologie. Wasn’t inexpensive but it is the dream white spring coat that I have been looking for! Good hunting.

    Pat Allen

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  • ann February 5, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    I too remember the Easter shift with the matching coats that my mother,sisters, and myself would wear every year. I long to be warm in the springtime! I am still on the hunt. Besides the high end designers, have you found any?

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  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. March 23, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Thanks so much for joining in the conversation, Barbara. We are so excited about our fashion conversations because this is a way of demonstrating that women in our broad demongraphic do love beautiful clothes and have fun wearing them! Our traffic pattern shows us that on Fridays we have lots of repeat visitors.

    By the way, the orange coat is reversible as well.

    Pat Allen

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  • [email protected] March 23, 2012 at 9:49 am

    That orange one in particular is stunning! I have a real weakness for coats so I loved this post!

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  • S. Bewkes March 16, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I’m with you and Debbi – fondly remember my “Easter” coats that my mother used to make as well – with large mother of pearl buttons when I was little. It is indeed difficult to find this kind of coat lately but like Debbi I am an outerwear hoarder, so still have a few in my collection!! Love you in the poppy!!

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  • DivaDebbi March 16, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Dr.Pat!
    I have the same fond memories of my Easter coats. I had a butter yellow tweed, collarless, with Princess seams that I wouldn’t mind having this minute!

    Spring coats, overwhelmingly, are of the trench variety nearly exclusively. No wonder you were frustrated.

    I’m a bit of a coat hoader and do my best do disperse them throughout several closets, since my husband can’t believe how many I own. Just like anything beautiful, if you love it, buy it on the spot, regardless of season. Your suggestion to snatch up coats in the Fall is sage!

    All the best,

    Debbi

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  • RozWarren March 16, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I guess that’s one of the many things a good husband is useful for — taking your coat away when it becomes too mangy to wear. Not to mention taking you out to purchase a replacement. You do seem very fond of the color orange. I wonder how your attachment to this bright color began? Adrian, I also remember shopping with Mom for spring coats at Best & Co. And the pleasure of shopping with mom. I lost my mom in 1979 and I still miss her every day! I’d give ANYTHING to enjoy one more shopping trip with her. However, I do occasionally get to shop with my daughter-in-law.

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  • Adrian Miller March 16, 2012 at 7:14 am

    We don’t usually have a spring. Winter quickly turns to hazy hot and humid although the crazy weather this winter might constitute as spring. My mom used to take me to Best & Co and bought me a new spring coat every year. I fondly remember those shopping excursions with my mother. She loved clothes and loved to shop and was happiest taking me with her. She’s been gone now almost one year and this post brought back nice memories and a smile to my lips. Thanks.

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